The Biddeford City Council on Nov. 16 rejected a request by the University of New England to add three properties it acquired into the Institutional Zone. Brianna Soukup Photo/Portland Press Herald

BIDDEFORD — The Biddeford City Council on Nov. 16 declined to add three properties owned by the University of New England to the Institutional Zone.

UNE acquired the three properties some time after the zone was established in the early 2000s: 1 Hills Beach Road, the residence of the UNE president which is also used for hosting small university events; 583 Pool St., where the house and driveway were recently removed and that UNE has said it would like to landscape and use for signage; and 590 Pool St., which is also vacant. According to a letter to the city from Vice President for University Operations Alan Thibeault, UNE has no plans to utilize the house on the lot.

The three properties are in the suburban residential zone.

Biddeford City Planner Greg Tansley pointed out that changing the zone does not mean what could be done with the properties is automatically approved — if the university wanted to develop the properties in some way, it would have to the Planning Board for a master plan and development review.

Councilor Stephen St. Cyr said he is not opposed to the zone change and that the city and UNE has a “pretty good relationship,” but felt UNE should contribute more to the city.

“We’re accommodating them without having a larger discussion of their contributing to the city,” he said.

“It would behoove the city to have some type of mechanism triggered to be able to get something back for the approval,” said Councilor Marc Lessard, in part. Lessard said his vote against the proposal is not against UNE, but he believes there should be some sort of protocol set up to manage requests.

Councilor William Emhiser said he favored the change but believes the entities should have a conversation.

UNE pays a $100,000 Payment in Lieu of Taxes annually to the city of Biddeford,.

The city does not have a new Comprehensive Plan in place, and zone changes have been made piecemeal, pointed out Councilor Norman Belanger as to why he was voting no. “I don’t see anything driving this (that) has to happen today,” said Belanger.

An institutional overlay would allow any property acquired by the university to become part of the institutional zone, he said.

Tansley, Biddeford’s planner for 17 years, said the zone created in the early 2000s meant all properties UNE owned at the time were included in the institutional zone, but not acquisitions after that point.

The motion to make the change was defeated.

Comments are not available on this story.